Sunday, May 3, 2009


Breezy Wynn, Tennessee Volunteers

Breezy Wynn, businessman, 1960s.

The Football and Business Career of “Breezy”

Herman D. Wynn was a star footballer for the Dublin Green Hurricanes in the mid twenties. His friends called him "Breezy." "Breezy" was highly sought after by college coaches. He was an all-around athlete, starring in football, basketball, and track. The 1926 edition of the Hurricanes were champions of the 12th Congressional District. After a 5-2-1 season, the Dublin team played Eastman for the district title. "Breezy" intercepted an Eastman pass at the Dublin three-yard line and ran it back ninety-seven yards for the lone score of the game. Ed Hall kicked the extra point. Wynn, along with George Scarborough, Lester Jackson, and Nat Lease were dubbed the "Four Horsemen" of the Hurricanes. After football season, "Breezy" led the Green Hurricanes to a second place finish in the district with a record of 13 and 2. Both loses came at the hands of Cochran, by a total of three points, and only after "Breezy" fouled out in the championship game. Highlights of the '26-'27 seasons were a 68 to 6 victory over Lyons High, a 56 to 18 victory over Emanuel Co. Institute, and 23 to 8 victory over Sigma Nu Fraternity of Mercer University.

"Breezy" played at Georgia Military College in 1928 and at Richmond Academy in 1929. He enrolled at the University of Tennessee where he played from 1930 to 1934. He broke his leg in the first game of the 1933 season - an injury which cost the Volunteers three defeats according to their legendary coach, Bob Neyland. Before then, the Volunteers had not lost a game when "Breezy" was on the team. When he arrived at college, he was driving an Essex without a top and had ten dollars in his pocket. He was considered one of the best fullbacks in the Southeastern Conference in his time. In addition to his duties as a running back, "Breezy" kicked for the Vols. During his career at Tennessee, Wynn played with all time greats, Beattie Feathers, Herman Hickman, and Bobby Dodd. Wynn was the recipient of the Amateur Football Award from the National Football Hall of Fame. In 1958, "Breezy" was nominated for "Sports Illustrated's" Silver Anniversary Collegiate Football All Star Team. The team was chosen to honor those athletes who had distinguished themselves in their chosen fields of employment.

"Breezy" became more famous for his career as an industrialist. While at Tennessee, "Breezy" began his business career operating Vol Dry Cleaners, a pool room, a barber shop, a meat market, and a collection agency. After graduation, he opened an athletic equipment company, The Southern Athletic Company. "Breezy" hired a few women to sew and borrowed some money to finance the business. He developed uniforms and equipment that were much lighter than the "old-fashioned kind." The idea caught on. Orders came in from high schools and colleges all over the country. At one time, Wynn controlled twenty-three plants, which employed thirty five-hundred employees and had contracts totaling more than twenty-five million dollars.

When World War II began, Wynn shifted his production line to manufacture barracks "duffle" bags. He proclaimed himself as "The King of Barracks Bags." More than nine million of them were turned out, usually about fifty thousand a week. Wynn's company also made the M-65 jacket. By 1945, Wynn's business had expanded to ten factories in Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, and New York. Wynn's company shipped more than a million garments to eleven foreign countries. His company was making more than a million pairs of pants for the Lend Lease program. After the war, Wynn hoped to get into the army salvage business.

Wynn's business holdings also included the Southern Aviation Manufacturing Company, and Salvage Company of Tennessee. Southern Athletic continued to make sporting goods but also made all weather coats for the military and civilian customers.

Wynn was a top organization man in the Knoxville area. He served as a founder and president of the Knoxville Quarterback. He was President of the Knoxville Symphony Society. He organized an annual charity football game to benefit children with Cerebral Palsy. He also served as a director of Church Street Methodist Church, the Boys Club of Knoxville, the City Club of Knoxville, and the Tennessee Manufacturer's Association. While he was in college, "Breezy" picked up laundry for dry cleaning. Later he bought a dry-cleaning business. "Breezy" was generous with his money. When dogwood trees were needed to plant along trails, he donated a thousand trees. He solicited three million dollars for a hospital for children, one hundred thousand of which he gave himself. He brought the Symphony out of financial ruin.

In 1964, Wynn sold his remaining interest in the Southern Athletic Company to Diversa, Inc. of Dallas. Wynn remained President of the company until his retirement in 1965. At the time of the sale, the company was grossing fifteen to twenty million dollars a year.

After a short retirement, Breezy formed Wynn Industries, which took over the idle Apparel Corporation of America. Breezy put hundreds of persons back to work. The company manufactured clothing for men and women and boys and girls. In 1970, the company announced a 20 year contract worth forty million dollars. Wynn was a prominent member of the Republican party and a close friend of President Richard Nixon.

A disastrous fire in the Wynn Building destroyed all of his personal papers in February of 1977 - depriving all of us of more detailed accounts of his careers in sports and business. All the pictures, clippings, and memorabilia were gone. An entire lifetime of mementos was history, lying among the ashes. Breezy looked at it this way. "Look ahead. Yesterday is history, but tomorrow will always offer new challenges to be conquered. I can't wait until tomorrow." The legend of "Breezy" Wynn, "The Duke of Dublin," lives on, and no fire will ever take it away.


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  2. Thx for this wonderful post on my grandpa! He was such a dedicated and unique individual. I loved him and he loved the world. Once he died... the mold was broken. The world will benefit from this story u all have produced. Thx